Arbor Intermediate School

September 2022 Issue

School Leadership Team

School Leadership Team

Heather O’Donnell, Principal

Janell Smolk, Assistant Principal

Jessica Jerez, Counselor

Karen Hoeg, Secretary

Corinne Fender, School Nurse

Marcela Ridley, Attendance Clerk

Kenneth Dzurilla, Custodian

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A Message from the Principal

Dear Arbor Families,

The year has been off to a busy start, with students meeting new friends, acclimating to new classrooms, and participating in class and school events. Fourth graders had an opportunity to meet some of the teachers and tour the building during the August Meet and Greet event. All new students to Arbor listened and learned about all of the instruments they can choose from this year in band or orchestra. Students have been learning about the historical and cultural contributions of the Hispanic community through classroom lessons and school-wide events for Hispanic Heritage Month. They have also been enjoying the weather outside at recess meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends.

We are looking forward to a great year, with opportunities both inside and outside of the classrooms. There are a lot of dates to be aware of this month, including a PTO meeting on October 11, a Dine to Donate fundraiser at Chipotle on October 12, a Family Fun Night October 18, and both Breakfast with your Child week and the Scholastic Book Fair from October 17-21. More information on all of those events and more will be forthcoming through both email and my weekly Sunday phone calls.


Heather O’Donnell

Principal, Arbor Intermediate School

Counseling Corner

The Week of Respect is celebrated the first week of October. During this week, we will be focusing on respect and treating others with kindness. As part of the school wide character education, students will be learn about the difference between bullying and bothering, and between telling and tattling.

“Bothering” (Conflict) – You and a friend are mad at each other; Someone says or does something unkind, whether by accident or on purpose that makes you feel mad, sad or annoyed.

“Bullying” – Is very serious – someone says or does something unkind over and over again even though you have asked them to stop and/or got help from an adult - the mad, sad or annoyed feelings are turning into nervous, scared or embarrassed feelings; Someone makes fun of you or treats you badly or differently because of the country you and/or your family are from, the color of your skin, the holidays you celebrate, the religion that you practice, the food that you and your family eat, or any way that you may look, act or learn differently than others.

Tattling = gets someone in trouble.

Telling = gets someone out of trouble.

Students will learn what they can do to help themselves or someone else in a bothering or bullying situation, such as using “I-Messages,” walking away, telling an adult, and staying with a friend or buddy.

You can assist your child in dealing with such situations by:

- Encouraging your child to report incidents to you and adults at school.

- Helping your child identify the difference between bothering and bullying.

-Ask your child how he or she has handled the situation – What Problem Solving Steps did they use?

-Coach your child in alternatives such as using “I-Messages,” and the “Stop, Go and Tell” steps.

-Work closely with your child’s teacher and other school staff such as the counselor and the principals.

-Encourage your child to seek help and report serious incidents immediately.

-Talk with your child often about events at school.

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Arbor Welcomes a New Counselor

Jessica Jerez

Background: I've worked with students for the past four years while attending college and graduate school. I received my Associates degree from Union County College in Human Services. After I went to Rutgers where I received my Bachelors and Masters in Social Work. I am excited to start at Arbor as the school counselor and my goal is to support students emotionally, socially, and academically.


Food: Mexican Food

Place: Paris

Color: Purple

Entertainment: Amusement Parks and Water Parks

Holidays: Christmas

Season: Summer

Nurse's Corner

Welcome back to school! Let’s have a great year!

I want everyone to remember 2 important things.

1.Handwashing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs.

2.Breakfast is very important. After a long night of sleeping, your fuel tank is empty.

Breakfast is the fuel that gets you going to start your day.

What should you eat? Just like with other meals, try to eat a variety of foods, including:

fruit, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.

Kids who eat breakfast do better in school, are more likely to participate in physical activities, and eat healthier overall. So tomorrow morning, don't run out the door on an empty stomach.

Fuel up with a healthy breakfast!

Arbor Welcomes New Teachers

Tiffany Santos- 4th Grade Teacher

Background: In December of 2020, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Special Education. I am planning to eventually complete my master’s in occupational therapy or speech therapy. This is my 3rd year teaching. Prior to Piscataway, I have taught in Elizabeth and Warren. I am Portuguese and travel back home every summer. I am currently engaged and planning to get married in Portugal.


Food: Francesinha (Portuguese dish)

Movie: The Twilight Series

Television Show: This is Us

Book: Harry Potter Series

Holiday: Christmas

Vacation: Madeira, Portugal (Portuguese island)

Hobbies: DIY projects

Thing to do: Spending time with my family. I love going to the beach, travelling, and concerts.

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Myriam Parker- 4th Grade Teacher

Background: I grew up in East Windsor and currently living in Piscataway. I lived in Delaware for 4 years (I was home for less than a month a year) and lived in Baltimore, MD for a year. I am Jewish, and have an Ashkenazi background (Eastern European and Russian). I have an Bachelors in Elementary Education and Middle School Mathematics from the University of Delaware. This is my fourth year teaching, but I have taught 5th grade through High School Math before coming to Arbor.


· Food: French Toast

· Song: (currently) Dibs by Kelsea Ballerini (but it changes every few days/weeks)

· Movies: The Harry Potter series

· Music Artist: Taylor Swift

· Colors: Black, Blue, Purple

· Dessert: Cookie Dough

· Season: Spring/Summer (don’t like cold)

· Holiday: New Years

· TV Shows: Rugrats and Lucifer

Things I do/did:

· I play Flute/Piccolo as my main instrument

· Dance (mostly Hip Hop and Street)

· Was the Mascot at University of Delaware

· Was in the Marching Band all throughout High School and 2 years in College.

· I teach Religious School (Judaism) as a hobby.

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Mr. Montgomery- 5th Grade Teacher

I went to West Chester University and live in Middletown NJ. This is my first year working in the Piscataway district and I really enjoy it! My favorite food is pizza, I'm currently watching Better Call Saul, my favorite music is 90's rock and my favorite thing to do after school is drum. I am excited to be here and get to know the Arbor students.

Back to School Night

Arbor Staff welcomed parents and guardians to Back to School Night on Wednesday, September 21st. Parents and guardians had an opportunity to meet with teachers to learn about curriculum and class routines. In addition, Mrs. O'Donnell, Principal, and Dr. Tom Connors, Board President, presented during the evening. Parents and guardians were able to ask questions to learn about Arbor School. It was a great evening filled with enthusiasm by all!

Band and Orchestra Introduction

Students in the fourth grade, as well as 5th graders new to Arbor, received an instrument demonstration by the orchestra and band instructors. During the demonstration, students listened to a selection of music performed by orchestra teachers. Mr. Mejias was joined by Dr. Sato from MLK and Mrs. Lopez from Quibbletown. After the performance, students were provided details on the program and the process for joining the performing arts. Mr. Mejias and Mrs. Torres are looking forward to making music with all the new band and orchestra members.

“Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope”

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize the achievements Hispanic Americans have made, and continue to make, in our country. During this month, Arbor students celebrate the culture, histories, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Mexico, Spain, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Senora Garcia created an interactive bulletin board recognizing our Hispanic Staff members. Next to each staff members name, there is a QR code to scan. After scanning the code, students and staff can learn more about the staff member.

Scan the QR code below to check out the bulletin board!

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Scan the QR Code to view the teacher information highlighted on the bulletin board.

Arbor Parent Teacher Organization-

Hello Gator Families

The PTO is extremely excited as we look forward to another wonderful year at Arbor. We hope all our families will sign on as members to our Facebook page. Please go to Arbor PTO – Piscataway, NJ to join.

We started the month of September with a Welcome Back Breakfast for all the wonderful staff at Arbor. Our Gifts n’ Things Fundraiser has ended. Please make sure your envelopes have been returned to the school. Thank you for your support.

Our Spirit Wear Sale ends October 9th. You can find more information on our Facebook page, just click on the link, and place your order.

October 2 is National Custodian Day, and the PTO will be giving Gift Certificates to our Custodians. They all work extremely hard 12 months a year to keep our Building and Grounds in pristine shape.

Our first Dine to Donate has been changed to Wednesday, October 13 at Panda Express. We will be sending flyers home the week before the event. Please remember to bring your flyer to the event so that the PTO receives credit for your purchase.

Please join us on Tuesday, October 11 for our PTO meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the school library.

Our Fall Book Fair will be held the week of October 17 thru October 21. This year we will also open the Book Fair on two evenings during the week. Tuesday, October 18 and Thursday, October 20 the Book Fair will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the library. For every book a student purchases they will receive a raffle ticket. We will have five daily winners who will receive $10 Scholastic Dollars each and one weekly winner who will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Volunteers are essential to help work the Book Fair during school hours. We will be sending home sign-up forms and hope you will find the time to sign-up for at least one session.

Our first Family Fun Night will take place in the cafeteria on Tuesday, October 18 from 6:30 p.m-8:00 p.m. Our theme will be “Painting Pumpkins.” Flyers will come home with your child for you to sign up to participate that evening. Families must sign up before the event so that we are prepared with the paint and pumpkins for your child.

On Monday, November 7th the PTO will be providing an “Extreme Science Assembly” by “The Science Wizard”. Mr. Hagerman was on America’s Got Talent, and we are extremely excited about having him at Arbor.


Thank You for Your Continue Support

PTO Officers

Mary Kate Phan and Sharon Lovas, Co-Presidents

Alicia Carman, Treasurer

Carla Franchi, Recording Secretary

Elizabeth Miller, Corresponding Secretary

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Week of Respect

Check out the "Arbor's Got Love" flyer to see how we are celebrating love, respect and kindness. Each day, students can participate by wearing clothing that represents the theme. We are looking forward to seeing all the Week of Respect Spirit!

Arbor Spirt Wear

Please access the link to purchase your Arbor Spirit Wear. A portion of the sales will benefit Arbor School and orders will be distributed the week of October 24th. The store closed on October 9, 2022.

If you have any questions, please send an email to

Check out the Student of the Month Winners- September

Upcoming Events

  • 9/30/22- Spirit Day- Rutgers Day (Wear Red and Black)
  • 10/3/22- Fundraiser Begins
  • 10/3/22-10/7/22- Week of Respect
  • 10/11/22- PTO Meeting (6:30pm In-Person)
  • 10/12/22- Dine to Donate Chipotle (4:00pm-8:00pm)
  • 10/12/22-4th Grade Field Trip
  • 10/13/22- 4th Grade Field Trip
  • 10/14/22- 4th Grade Field Trip
  • 10/17/22-10/21/22- PTO Book Fair and Breakfast with your Child Week
  • 10/18/22- PTO Family Fun Night (Pumpkins) and Book Fair
  • 10/19/22- 4th Grade Field Trip
  • 10/20/22- 4th Grade Field Trip
  • 10/20/22- Book Fair Night Timeslot (6:00pm-8:00pm)
  • 10/21/22- 4th Grade Field Trip
  • 10/28/22- Arbor Day (Wear Blue and Green)